24 thoughts on “Open Thread – Brown Pundits”

    1. More like Bengali Hindu refugees in Assam are getting primed for slaughter again by ULFA. I think Barak valley should be taken out of Assam and merged with bordering Tripura. Bangladeshi Hindu refugees that wish to go east can go to this East Bengal state, while those that wish west can come to West Bengal. For whatever reason the Assamese cannot stand Bengalis regardless of Hindu or Muslim.

      Remnant Assam should get a article 370 type deal to protect its own ethnic demography. This way both Assamese are safe in Assam, and Bengali Hindus still have India as a home to avail, and Bangladeshi Muslims can self deport or ghar wapsi into Hinduism if they wish to remain in India.

          1. I was just reading up on this; Comilla in BDesh was also a. Part of historic Tripura and they are Tibeto-Burmans.

            If I remember correctly (some of) Razib’s ancestors so it’s pretty likely his high East Asian ancestry are from “Bengalicised” Tripurans.

        1. Yup, Tripura always had a Bengali population but after partition it became overrun by Bengali Hindus, the non Bengali tribals of the state hated it. Bulk of the northeast fear is that their states will become like Tripura.

          Dipa Karmakar is a Bengali from Tripura, she was on front page due to her Olympics performance.

          There’s essentially a Bengali Hindu belt on all sides of Bangladesh in India, not just West Bengal. So there’s Bengali Muslims occupying the heartland of Bengal, then Bengali Hindus evicted to the outer lands, and a tribal belt outside of the Bengali Hindu lands (all the way from Orissa through Jharkhand to Gorkhaland through Assam and Meghalaya down into Tripura Manipur etc)

    2. Assamese hate Bengali Hindus far more than Bengali Muslims. I know this for a fact because I have had Assamese friends. Bengali Muslims are always on the back foot in Assam for the obvious reasons (constant charge of being illegal immigrants). It is the Bengali Hindus who are an eyesore for Assamese because they end up eating jobs and resources of Assamese.

      Overall, I am pessimistic. Ultimately, it just comes down to same old problem. Just too many people.

      1. Bengali Hindu bhadralok in the pre-1905 avatar were the thekedaars of British colonial admin and first round of brown sahibs, so this generated resentment from all places we got posted at as part of colonial admin. Assam being near definitely had a good amount of tea hill bungalows etc for the Bongs. We probably strutted around high and mighty about being Bengali speakers and for a while said Assamese is a dialect of Bangla etc, so similar to Hindi speakers in India in the 60s-90s.

        The Ahom love for Bangla Muslims is because Bengali-speaking Muslims historically didn’t really have a strong attachment to Bengali-ness as an identity marker until lead up to Bangladesh formation. So Bangla Muslim laborers in Assam were willing to becoming Assamese Muslims and switch language from Bangla to Ahomiya, which would strengthen the Ahomiya-majority of Assam…something Bengali Hindus could not fathom to do.

        Ultimately Ahom Hindus and Bong Hindus look like at daggers and each group wooing the Bangla Mo’s. BangMo’s though, gonna eat alive all Hindu groups cause of the relative ease of untying the lungi for humping one’s wife compared to the difficulty in untying the dhoti.

          1. “wait is that why the lungi is so popular????”

            Now the bell rings? 🙂
            In India it was an open secret.

        1. To be fair Bengalis have this belligerent reputation elsewhere in the neighbourhood as well, at least in Bihar. But the current economics dictate that Biharis cannot be as condescending to these folks.

          1. Lol. The best part is elsewhere in the country the bengalis feel they are fighting “North India” hegemony and “saving” India from fascism since they are so renaissance wala anyways ???

    3. This was a terrible,flyby comment, by someone with little knowledge.

      The state of Assam had always a strong Muslim minority centred around Bangladesh bordering districts like Cachar, Goalpara, Barpeta. However, not all Muslims are Bengali-speaking. Historically, the Muslim population until 1971 was about 24% with Bengali-speaking being a smaller plurality. As someone mentioned, Barak Valley is closer to West Bengal or Sylhet than to Assam.

      From 1971, the Muslim population in Assam swelled from about 24% to 34% or 35% (depending on census undercount) but much of the population increase is concentrated in Dhubri, Goalpara, Barpeta, Morigaon, Nagaon, Karimganj, Hailakandi. This was primarily caused by issues with the Indian army and BSF staying off border protection duties and the Congress being quite welcoming to the relocating population. Promptly, Congress lost respectability in Assam. In a way, this is similar to Muslim population increase in Uttar Dinajpur, Maldah and Murshidabad in WB that was driven by CPM/ULF tacitly encouraging Muslim influx. In addition, in Assam, the Bodo population also increases such that the Ahom Hindu population reduced to 61%. The AGP drive has been to reduce this influs, because, culturally, the Bengali Muslims are the farthest thing from Assamese Hindus (you would imagine a large Bengali Hindu influx, but that has not been proven).

      Many Hindus in Assam are followers of the Ekasarana Dharma, a panentheistic form of Hinduism founded and propagated by Sankardeva as part of the greater Bhakti movement in other parts of India, it rejects vedic worship, replaces it by a simplified form that requires just uttering the name of God.The simple and accessible religion attracted already Hindu and non-Hindu tribal populations. Sattra (monasteries) that accepted all castes and Namghar or prayer houses had profound influence in the evolution of social makeup of Assam’s society. Caste differences exist but much smaller than the rest of India.

      For most Assamese, Bengal and Bihar are a culture shock, having never been accustomed to pushy crowds or caste-based segregation or Islamic evangelism. In almost all aspects, Ahom are cultural opposite of Bihari and Bengali, Muslims or otherwise.

      Neither AGP or other parties ask for Assamese muslim de-citizenship. It is the Bengali Muslim whose position in Northeast India in doubt. This was a problem fallout of India’s war with Pakistan in Bangladesh, and without proper recourse, it will lead to exit of northeastern states from the Union. It is not to say that the Barak valley is OK with the influx of larrge number of Muslims; even the Bark valley is not OK with the influx. Now that Bangladesh is richer than Assam, it should work to take back the emigrants. There are 25 -30 million north east Indian people, but 150-200 million Bangladeshi and Bengali Muslims. The idea that the Northeast should bear the brunt is a nonstarter, and will end badly for Assam and India. I say this as a person with no animus towards Bangladesh or Muslims, but overpopulation and climatic shifts are a curse.

      1. “Now that Bangladesh is richer than Assam, it should work to take back the emigrants. “

        ????. Yeah good luck With that

  1. I was just reading up on this; Comilla in BDesh was also a. Part of historic Tripura and they are Tibeto-Burmans.

    my maternal grandmother was almost killed by a stampeding elephant who was a favorite of the maharani of tripura when she was a little girl.

  2. Indian NE is like Caucasus, patchwork of many tribes and ethnicities. Without a strong central government outside the area, it descend into much ethnic violence.

  3. Numinous,

    I thought these dates were inferences based on a mix of astronomical calculation and speculation. Do any of the older texts say flat out that the Mahabharata war happened in 3102 BC? Otherwise, what exactly is the problem if these dates can be re-calibrated with more knowledge that has been gathered over the past century or more?

    The earliest reference is from Aryabhatta and is followed in chronological sequence by Varahamihira (as presently dated) and then by the Aihole inscription Chalukya emperor Pulakeshin who defeated Harshavardhana in the 7th century.

    However, the Puranas which are from an earlier period, date the various dynasties right up to the end of the Satavahana empire through the reference point of the Kaliyuga or the birth year of Parikshit ( the same year as that of war ).

    There is no problem with recalibration of the dates provided there is good evidence to suggest that the traditional dating is false. But the colonial scholars did not prove that the date is wrong. It was William Jones in late 1700s who argued that Indian claims of great antiquity of their civilisation cannot be true because as per them earth itself was created by God only 6000 years ago.

    Later on, the Europeans in the late 1800s finally realised that Earth was much much older than what the Church doctrine had lead them to believe. It is for this reason that Max Muller finally said around 1890s that whether the Rigveda was 1200 BC or 12000 BC no power on earth could possibly decide. Yet his initial dating of Rigveda to 1200 BC and AIT to 1500 BC has been religiously held onto even today. After the discovery of IVC in the 1920s it became obvious that Indian civilisation was quite advanced even 5000 years ago and was a larger contemporary of their own cradle of civilization, Mesopotamia. This infact supported the native Indian tradition of great antiquity of Indian civilization which was on flimsy grounds rejected by William Jones. But these fellows never bothered to revisit their theories. It was just too inconvenient. Though their erroneous views of Earth’s history and of the antiquity of Indian civilization were proven totally wrong, yet they held onto the theories of Indian history which had come about due to those erroneous views.

    But why are we beholden to such crap prejudiced version of our history ?

    Indian historical tradition is hardly the only tradition to have been “devalued” thus. Few informed British people likely believe in the Arthurian legends as authentic history. So if “devaluing history” is a sign of contempt (or humiliation), the British did it not just to us but to themselves too.

    How they treat their own history is their concern but they cannot have the liberty to mess around with our history. It is not too much to ask for a more accurate version of Indian history which is in conformance with our traditions.

    Most Westerners also don’t consider the events surrounding the Exodus story to be history either, as it doesn’t pass historic or scientific scrutiny today. (And they adopted the Hebraic tradition as their own a long time ago.)

    But the events of Exodus and other Biblical events relate to the the Jews and not to modern Europeans. I am not sure they really care that much. However the very reason the Bronze Age civilizations of Egypt and Mesopotamia were discovered was because the Europeans searched for them based on their descriptions in the Bible.

    And you should note that those Westerners who are devout Christians deeply believe in the truth of Biblical events. It is just that most of them have little faith in their religion nowadays.

    Having said so, the limited point is that there is no way all of ancient Vedic tradition can be fitted in a post 1500 BC scenario. It is an attempt of the Western academia to interpret Indian history as per their own prejudicial beliefs and conveniences. They have so far failed to show a single archaeological evidence of AIT nor have they been able to show some textual evidence in more than 200 years of one-sided scholarship. Isn’t this telling enough about the hollowness of their theories ? Why should we allow them to ride roughshod over us ?

    It seems other people are willing to reconsider and reinterpret their historical traditions without being humiliated or psychologically shattered. Why can’t we do the same?

    It is not about being psychologically shattered. It’s about standing up to the gross misinterpretation of your history.

    1. Jaydeep,

      Thanks for the detailed response. I’m not unsympathetic to where you are coming from; I just think you are over-interpreting what likely were genuine mistakes and short-sighted theories made by some of the earlier historians (like William Jones.)

      Clearly, the more recent theorists are not hamstrung by Jones’ putative belief in the earth being 6000 years old. AIT models today are emphatically not based on Biblical worldviews but rather inspired by linguistics and archaeology (and recently bolstered by genetics.)

      Sure, you have interesting alternative interpretations of the evidence, and we can continue to debate those, but I think your perennial suspicion of Western historians is unwarranted. At least in the modern day, most of them are not driven by white supremacist or evangelical Christian beliefs.

      How they treat their own history is their concern

      You can take this view if you want, but I brought that up to show that (1) their motives are above suspicion, and (2) reinterpretation of their history doesn’t seem to bother them the same way the reinterpretation of Indian history seems to bother many Indians.

      Look, I believe there is such a thing as objective historical analysis (I can offer as good an analysis of British history as they can of ours.) If I read you correctly, you think peoples’ analyses are intrinsically biased by their background and cannot be trusted by others. If that’s the case, we are just going to be digging ourselves into silos and our arguments will fall on deaf ears outside our respective echo chambers.

      (Lose the language about motivations and you’ll gain the respect of people with opposing views, even if they may not be convinced by your intellectual arguments. If you remain defensive and touchy, people will keep ignoring you.)

      It’s about standing up to the gross misinterpretation of your history.

      Whether or not they have misinterpreted anything ought to be analyzable in an objective manner rather than taken for granted. The problem with assuming that our ancient texts are accurate in their estimates of, say, the Mahabharata War’s antiquity, is that circa 3000 BC, it is generally agreed upon that the level of civilization (metals, vehicles, horses, etc.) portrayed in that war cannot be found anywhere in the world. So I think the burden is on the defenders of those texts to show how and why India could continue to exist in a sui generis state without impacting the rest of the world. It wasn’t that hard to travel to and from India, even back then.

      1. You do know well that except for one post, all of my other posts have solely focused on the evidence and the data. I do not keep harping on the motives of Western scholars.

        However, in response to my posts, most people do not try to critic the data I put, they try to question my motives and intention and psychoanalyse the Hindu right and it’s need to counter the Western narrative. How am I to respond to such people ? As a response I have to stress that the Western Indologists are not above reproach and that there is good reason to question their interpretation of Indian history which is far from being fair. That is the gist of it.

        And regarding your other point – I have said in my reply that the old erroneous views of Earth’s antiquity only being 6000 years and other such stuff have been discarded by the West. But the point is – when it comes to Indian history their theories about Indian history based on such erroneous have still been held onto. For example, AIT is still dated to 1500 BC inspire of no archaeological evidence. That is the problem. And unless we Indians raise our objection, we should not expect that they will correct it on their own.

        1. Fair enough. I know you’ve been trying to interpret the evidence as you see it. Let’s stick to debating theories and try our best to ignore the politics.

          As a response I have to stress that the Western Indologists are not above reproach and that there is good reason to question their interpretation of Indian history which is far from being fair.

          Sure, and where they question your motives (e.g., being on the Hindu-right), they are in the wrong too. But ignore that and focus on building a solid case. Logic (and truth) always win, eventually!

          For example, AIT is still dated to 1500 BC inspire of no archaeological evidence.

          Here I think you have a blind spot, as you focus only on India (and proximate regions like C. Asia and shelve aside everything else connected to the Indo-European story.) Clearly, if you restrict the data, you will come up with a different model.

          There is archaeological evidence for dispersal from the Pontic-Caspian steppe, both westwards into Europe and east and south into Andronovo and BMAC. These dispersals coincide with the language-dispersal times estimated by the linguists. If archeological evidence of mass migration from southern Central Asia into the Indus Valley is missing, I wouldn’t treat that as a fatal flaw. We are talking about nomadic people who were mostly male (according to the theory); it’s quite possible that they didn’t leave too many markers or those markers got quickly obliterated.

          Anyway, you do seem to have semi-plausible justifications for OIT, so do work on those. But unless it can explain how ALL the branches of the IE languages ended up where they are today, people are not going to accept that as a replacement for AIT/AMT, regardless of what the Vedas or Puranas say.

  4. Every now and then one sees a Sri Lankan like our good friend sbarrkum wax eloquent about the great secularism of Sri Lanka, with a subtle undertone of their superiority over Indians. Here is recent news form Sri Lanka:


    The Rajapaksa camp [Ed: i.e., the opposition] has also accused the new Constitution of diluting the Buddhism’s foremost position over other religions.

    The prime minister emphasised that the foremost place given to the majority religion Buddhism has been preserved.

    In other words, both the ruling party and the main position are agreed on explicitly and constitutionally recognizing that Buddhism has the foremost status in Sri Lanka.

    India is perhaps the only country in the region which follows exactly the opposite trend, where the majority religion is constitutionally discriminated against.

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